A 1.8-54 MHz 1KW RF Deck incorporating all updates applied to the original through June 2017

This RF deck was developed on .078 thick FR4, and incorporates all the changes made to the original one done on TC350 through May 2017. The performance is the same (same output power) with slightly lower gain, which results from the use of a more effective gain stabilizing circuit. These are the advantages to this design over the original:

Here's the schematic for this RF deck:

If you are building this RF deck from a kit I supplied, here are the assembly instructions:

 

Begin with the output board, and install all of the capacitors to their positions shown here
 

Cut two pieces of RG316 coax to a length of 14.5 inches (37cm). Pair them as shown, and wind them through one of the large ferrite cores, passing the paired coax 4 times through the center of the core from left to right.

By using two pieces of identical 50 ohm coax like this in parallel, we are duplicating the characteristics of 25 ohm coax. At 50 MHz and below, this RG316 Teflon coax can handle more than 3 times the power it will actually need to handle in this circuit.
 

Remove 1/2" insulation from each of the 4 ends. Flare the shields back, leaving about 5mm of the shields unflared; tin the unflared shields at the location of the red arrow.
 

Trim the flared parts of the shields away with a pair of diagonal cutters; this is best done by holding the cutting blades parallel to the coax as the flared portions are trimmed away.

Taking care not to cut into the center conductors (which weakens them), remove all but 3mm of insulation from the ends as shown in the photo, and tin the center conductors.

Prepare the second transformer in the same way as the first.
 

Install the first transformer by soldering both cables at one end to the traces as shown, center conductors to the bottom trace, shields to the top, making certain the insulated part of the center conductors is all that bridges the gap.
 

Solder the other ends of the transformer across the vertical gap between the bottom two traces, center conductors to the right side, shields to the left.
 

Install the second transformer to the right side in mirror image style in the same manner as the first (see photo).
 

Make the drain chokes; locate the two #14 tinned magnet wires, straighten them out, and pass each through a ferrite core (Laird 28b1000-000) as shown here. One end should extend out the end of a core by about an inch, the other by almost 2 inches. The wire should pass through the center of the core 9 times.



This photo shows how and where to mount these chokes. Leave as much space as possible between them, about 1/8 inch is enough.
 

 

 

Construct the output balun

The RG402 coax supplied should be trimmed to a length of 15.5 inches (395mm) (the extra 2 inches left over are provided for practicing how to safely trim it, which will be shown in a later step). Begin by passing the coax through the core from left to right, leaving about 1 inch coming out of the core on the left side. After winding the coax so it passes through the center of the core 4 times, you'll have about 2.25 inches (57mm) coming out of the right side.
 

Practice these next steps on the short piece of RG402 left over from trimming; proceed with trimming the balun ends only when you feel you've mastered the technique.

Remove 1/2 inch (12mm) insulation from each end, exposing the outer conductor. Roll the coax under a knife blade to 'score' it, at 5mm away from the insulation, taking care not to cut completely through the shield (outer).
 

Using a pliers, bend the shield end back and forth, breaking it away at the scored location. Once it is broken, it can be removed with a pair of diagonal cutters, or just pulled away from the end of the cable. This needs to be done at both ends of the balun.
 

On both ends, remove all but 2 or 3mm of insulation from around the center conductor, taking care not to cut into the center conductor itself. The balun is now ready to be installed.
 

Disregard the single bifilar-wound drain choke in this and all the remaining photos (it is not the type being used now).

Beginning with the longer lead, form the center conductor so it will lie flat on the trace in plane with the outer, and solder it in place across the gap as shown; center conductor soldered to the left side, outer soldered to the right.


 

In this last step, you'll need to bend the coax down and then level again as it exits the core, and secure the ends as shown. Solder the outer conductor first, then bend the center conductor down onto its trace and solder it in place.

The output board is finished.
 

Continuing now with assembling the input board; install all components (except T1) as shown in their locations below. The component locations for C5, rtb1, C6 and rtb2 are not used in this design.


 

Cut 8 inches of RG316 and remove 5mm of insulation from the center, exposing the shield in that location. Tin the shield there.
 

Remove 2.25 inches insulation from each end, exposing the shield.
 

Holding the shield in place with your left hand, push the right end of the shield to the left, forming a mushroom bulge about 5mm away from the insulation on the left. Tin the 5mm of shield at the spot referenced by the red arrow.
 

Using a pair of diagonal cutters with the cutting blades parallel to the coax, trim away the mushroom bulge and slide the loose shield off of and away from the insulated center conductor.
 

Install the coax into the smaller ferrite core in criss-cross fashion as shown.
 

Position the transformer as shown, and pass the coax on the left across the core to the right, then through the core from right to  left. Solder the exposed shield to the left gate trace, taking care not to bridge the gap between the traces.
 

Pass the coax on the right across the core to the left, then through the core from left to right. Solder the exposed shield to the trace on the right, taking care not to bridge the gap between the traces.
 

Taking care not to cut into the center conductor, trim 4mm of insulation away from the ends and tin them. Solder the coax center tap to the trace below it (one end of R10 is also connected to this trace).
 

Solder the upper wire to the trace with R13, and the lower end to the ground trace next to C3. The input board is finished.
 

Installing the Boards to the Spreader and Heat Sink

 

Your heat sink should be drilled/tapped for 40-40 machine screws (or your metric equivalent) using the pattern in this template.

Position your copper spreader (with LDMOS attached) over the drilled pattern in your heat sink.

The recommended way to attach your LDMOS to the copper spreader is to flow-solder it as you see it pictured here. Machined spreaders with LDMOS attached using this process are available on the parts page here.

You can use screws to mount your LDMOS, but the heat transfer and rf grounding will be inferior.
 

 

Slide the boards into place under the transistor tabs

Secure the board and spreader to the heat sink with 4-40 x 5/8 machine screws (or your metric equivalent) using flat washers under the screw heads. Once the boards are in proper position, tighten the screws.

Solder the 4 transistor tabs to the PC boards.


Recommended testing procedure

There is no tuning required with this amplifier, and only one adjustment to make (setting idling current).

  1. Attach input and output coax jumpers. Your driver should be limited to 3w on 160 through 10m, and 5w on 6m; the output should be on a dummy load for the initial testing.
  2. Attach ground, bias (12v?) and VDD (50v) wires to the RF deck, but do not apply power yet.

     

     

  3. Turn on the 50v main supply voltage, but not the bias; there should be no current drawn

  4. Turn on the bias and note the idling current drawn from the 50v supply. Adjust IDQ for 2 amps. Note: the current drawn by the bias supply (usually12v) is not what you are measuring here...you must measure the idling current (IDQ) the LDMOS draws from the 50v supply.

  5. Shut off the power supply, and remove current limiting.

  6. Turn the power supply back on; drive the amp with about 1/2w, and verify there is output power.
  7. If all OK in the previous step, the amplifier can now be driven to full output. Current should not be driven higher than 35 amps on any band. Check the performance graph in the main technical article for typical performance.